A Guide to AC Systems: Which is Right for You?

A man sitting on his couch using his laptop and adjusting the temperature of his ductless AC unit with a remote

Keeping our homes cool is a big concern throughout the year, especially in Southeast Florida. So, if your air conditioner is on the fritz or non-existent, you will want to waste no time in getting a new or replacement AC.

 

With many different types of air conditioners on the market, how do you decide what is right for you? We have compiled this comprehensive guide to all of the different types, their pros and cons, and would be pleased to work with you to decide what type of unit will work best for your needs.

Central Air Conditioning

Using a cooling compressor, typically installed outside of the home, a central air unit uses a refrigerant that runs through coils to cool air, which is then blown through your home by a fan through ducts. This air is circulated through supply and return ducts, which push warm air out through an exhaust system while the cool air stays in.

Pros

  • Designed to cool the entire home
  • Can use the same ductwork as forced air systems
  • Quieter than in-room units
  • Programmable thermostats can save on utility bills
  • Usually more efficient than in-room units
  • Require only periodic maintenance

Cons

  • Typically the most expensive type of system, especially if you need to have ducts installed
  • Older systems and duct leakage reduce energy efficiency

Window Air Conditioners

A window-mounted AC has a refrigerant cooling system that pushes cool air through the front vents while pulling hot air out of the back and sides of the unit. These units are designed to cool one room, meaning multiple units will be needed to cool the entire home.

Pros

  • You can usually install them yourself
  • Low initial investment
  • Can efficiently cool one or two rooms
  • Many models to choose from

Cons

  • Can only cool a limited area
  • Louder than other units
  • Lose the use of a window while installed
  • Must winterize or remove them for cold weather

Ductless Air Conditioners

Also called split systems because the condenser and blower units are separate, a ductless AC is great for homes or rooms with no existing ductwork. The condenser unit is installed outdoors and is connected to the blower unit by conduits that power the blower and carry refrigerant. The indoor unit is typically mounted on a wall in the area that you want to be cooled. Multiple blower units can be installed throughout the house.

Pros

  • Energy efficient
  • Does not need ducts
  • Can set different temperatures for different zones with multiple blower units
  • Do not need to winterize in cold weather

Cons

  • Does not circulate air throughout the home
  • When cooling the entire home, multiple units are needed, which can get expensive
  • Expensive to install in new construction

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

These units work just like window ACs but are mounted in a sleeved hole cut into an exterior wall, making them a permanent fixture.

Pros

  • Can efficiently cool one or two rooms
  • Many models to choose from
  • Doesn't block a window

Cons

  • Recommended installation by a professional
  • Can only cool a limited area
  • Louder than other units
  • Must be winterized in cold weather

Portable Air Conditioners

A portable AC is a self-contained unit similar to a window AC, but light, portable, and usually on wheels. Because none of the unit is outside for ventilation of warm air, an exhaust hose is typically installed in a window, using an airtight kit.

Pros

  • Has the ability to move from room to room
  • Does not require ducts
  • Easy and quick installation
  • Low initial investment

Cons

  • Only effective in rooms less than 500 square feet
  • The loudest type of AC
  • Requires the use of a window
  • Less efficient than other ACs
  • Must be uninstalled in cold weather

When determining what type of new AC unit is right for you and your home, you must take into consideration your budget, if there is existing ductwork, and how much of your home needs to be cooled.

If you only need to cool a small area of your home, cost-efficient options like window ACs and portable ACs are a great way to cool short term. Long-term options like ductless units and package terminal ACs are great as a permanent solution.

If your whole home needs to be cooled, then central air is more expensive upfront, but energy-efficient models can save you hundreds on utilities throughout the year.

If you need any advice on which heating and cooling systems are the best options for you, don't hesitate to contact the professional experts at American Air Cares. We are a family-owned, licensed and insured, family-owned company that has been serving the Port St. Lucie and Martin County area for over 24 years. Our work is guaranteed and we offer financing options available that fit into any budget.